"'Shadow-flicker' is a recognised problem with wind turbines. That's why they aren't built near housing developments. And we want to be good neighbours."
A WIND turbine which produces electricity for 4,000 homes is being switched off in the early mornings because it irritates inmates at a nearby top-security prison.
Energy firm bosses agreed to halt the three rotating blades on the 260ft tower next to Whitemoor Prison, near March, after becoming concerned that there could be "security problems" if prisoners were getting upset.
Longhill Energy, which turned on the £1 million turbine five weeks ago, said it had agreed to the periodic switch-off after talks with prison officials.
Director Martin Alder said: "I suppose the bottom line is that it’s a matter of security. We don’t want to upset prisoners.
"The problem is at this time of year, the sun hits the blades of the turbine at a certain angle and creates flickering shadows over parts of the prison.
"Some of the prisoners complained that the flickering was irritating them.
"We’ve discussed the problem with the prison authorities and agreed to turn the turbine off for a few hours in the early morning until about 9am. The problem only occurs at certain times of the year when the sun is low.
"We’re hoping that in the long-term, equipment can be fitted which will stop the turbine automatically when the sun is at this problem angle.
"Until we’ve got that new technology in place, we’ve decided to opt for an old technology solution and switch it off at certain times.
"’Shadow-flicker’ is a recognised problem with wind turbines. That’s why they aren’t built near housing developments. And we want to be good neighbours."
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that HMP Whitemoor is in discussions with the turbine company over the operation of their wind turbine.
"The Prison Service is reaching an agreement whereby the wind turbine does not interfere with the smooth running of the prison."
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